Las Vegas City Council Approves Marijuana Consumption Lounges

Las Vegas is paving the way for more cannabis lounges to open in the future.
Las Vegas City Council Approves Marijuana Consumption Lounges

After a new decision by the City Council, Las Vegas has become something of a cannabis pioneer.

The city will now allow marijuana consumption lounges. As such, it is the first city in the state of Nevada to have legal weed lounges. And Las Vegas is now among the first handful of cities around the country to allow for such venues.

City Council’s Decision

The Las Vegas City Council voted yesterday on a resolution to legalize marijuana consumption lounges. The idea passed with a 4-1 vote.

As a result, marijuana consumption lounges are now legal within Las Vegas city limits. Of course, these businesses will be heavily regulated. As reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, rules for consumption lounges will include:

  • Only adults 21 and older will be allowed to enter lounges.
  • Lounges will not be allowed to sell or provide any actual cannabis. Instead, patrons must bring their own flower.
  • Lounges will be allowed to sell paraphernalia.
  • Consumption sites must be at least 1,000 feet from schools and casinos. Similarly, they must also be at least 300 feet from other protected institutions, such as churches.
  • All marijuana consumption lounges must meet strict requirements for odor control, fire safety, air quality, sanitation, and security.
  • Additionally, marijuana consumption taking place inside the lounges cannot be visible to the public.

For now, the state will only grant licenses to open a lounge to those already sanctioned to run a dispensary.

On the surface, this seems to contradict the rule that lounges cannot sell weed. But instead of being located inside the actual dispensary, weed consumption lounges will be separate from and adjacent to the retail space.

To open a lounge, business owners must apply to the city for a special use permit. The permit costs $5,000 annually.

As per the Las Vegas Review-Journal, there are currently 12 operational dispensaries in Las Vegas. It is unclear how many of these dispensaries will apply to also open a consumption lounge.

A Pioneering Decision

Las Vegas is the first city in Nevada to legalize consumption lounges. And while state law has yet to explicitly outlaw or legalize such lounges, there is space for cities to establish their own rules on the matter.

Specifically, in 2017, the Legislative Counsel Bureau clarified that under current state laws, local governments could choose to legalize lounges. From the state’s perspective, the only requirement is that such businesses follow the state’s age requirement that only people 21 and older can possess cannabis.

The issue of whether or not to allow for consumption lounges has become increasingly common in weed-legal places. To date, there are only a few lounges in existence.

According to Scot Rutledge, a cannabis business representative and advocate, the question of consumption lounges often gets stuck in a self-defeating cycle.

On the one hand, many local governments point to a lack of data as one reason to avoid allowing lounges. But that very decision makes it harder to create the data many lawmakers want to see.

Now, Rutledge explained to the Review-Journal, Las Vegas’s decision will help provide data for other cities and states considering lounges.

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